Situated in the clean fresh air of the Tyrolean Alps, the Parkhotel Igls in Austria is a medical spa complex. Freelance photographer & journalist, Carole Edrich, travelled there via train for an experience that has had a profound effect on her health.
I went to the Parkhotel Igls, a medi-spa subscribing to Modern Mayr philosophy and winner of Most Effective Medi-Spa in Condé Nast Traveller’s 2015 Spa Guide, for a luxury weightloss programme, and had to tear myself away from the hotel to see the local sites. My corner room, decorated in stylish simplicity with white and natural colours, had a huge terrace and a good sized desk along part of the wall, as well as a flat screen TV, free internet, spacious bathroom and cupboards nearly the size of a walk-in wardrobe.
Billed as a hotel spa, the place feels more like an upmarket retreat and it’s possible to sink into the comfortable sofas in communal areas, bury oneself in a book or unobtrusively people watch over one of the many free magazines available to guests.
The entire hotel has a clean, simple but stylish design that melds woodwork, stone, white walls and splashes of orange and lime. Some rooms have wheelchair access, you can pre-book DVD players and the luxury suites on the top floor have infrared cabins too.
The glass-walled indoor pool, daily activities, beauty spa, friendly staff, serene Kneipp baths and comfortable communal areas afforded a sense of relaxing privilege but my favourite place was the penthouse gym with a 210 degree panorama of the Tyrolean Alps and local town. Working out early morning, watching golden sunlight pour over the mountains, or at dusk, when everything but the clouds turn purple-blue, became high points of my days.
Experts gave specialist talks about the Mayr technique (Modern Mayr Medicine is based on the work of F. X. Mayr, an Austrian nutritionist who worked on the link between digestion, intestinal health and overall health) and other aspects of personal health maintenance, and the staff were always happy to facilitate any ideas or requests I had.
My weight loss programme included regular medical check-ups, sports massages, supervised (light) exercise in the gym, optional water workouts and other group exercise programmes. Lifestyle consultation and mentoring along with detox and cleansing options were also available and the beauty spa offers a series of alternate or supplementary treatments such as the colour massage which removed a good few of my heavier wrinkles for months.
The hotel is based in Innsbruck, so there is much to do on the doorstep. The futuristic Hungerburgbahn funicular, designed by Zaha Hadid, ascends 2,256m from the city centre up to the Nordpark resort, making winter sports such as skiing and snowboarding, and summer pleasures such as hiking and mountaineering, easily accessible to all. I particularly liked the bell foundry and outdoor market in Innsbruck, but was quite happy to spend most of my time either in the hotel complex, joining other guests for Nordic walking and nature tours, or hiking on my own.
I arrived in Austria sceptical about Modern Mayr practices, expecting to be hungry all the time and to be put through some hard exercise. I was never hungry, the exercise was only moderate and I left impressed with the quality of service, the logic and efficacy of the complimentary practices and feeling considerably better than I had when I arrived.
While I didn’t lose weight, I did loose 3cm from my waist. (That’s how it should be as muscle is heavier than fat.) But the biggest surprise – and the reason I plan to return every year – is that, through following the Modern Mayr programme as set out by Doctor Gartner at Igls, many of the symptoms that have wracked my body for the five years since finishing chemotherapy for aggressive breast cancer were eliminated or hugely reduced.
How to get to Parkhotel Igls, Austria without flying:
Carole took a lunchtime Eurostar to Paris followed by the TGV-Lyria. She stayed over at the luxurious Hotel Schzweizerhoff in Zurich (their porter meets you on the platform) and then travelled on to Innsbruck through the Arlberg Pass.
You can get there in a single day for €59 each way by leaving London early morning, changing at Brussels on to a high-speed Inter City Express (ICE) to Frankfurt and then take a direct EuroCity train to Salzburg.
Words: Carole Edrich for Feet on the Ground
Images: Carole Edrich